Despite rumors to the contrary that have circulated through the SNEWS offices over the last month, Nike ACG is very much alive and looking forward with new product concepts and ideas.
"The athletic movement is happening in the outdoors, and that feels very good to Nike," Nate Tobecksen told SNEWS. "Speed, lightweight and such speaks Nike's language."
Why the sudden surge in "Nike ACG trouble" rumors then? Tobecksen agrees with the SNEWS assessment that it is a result of decisions rooted in the new fiscal year budget discussions along with a decision by Rosanne Palmisano to leave the company strictly for personal reasons.
When Nike ACG was dissolved as a separate business unit in mid 2002, and brought back into the budget and control of the centralized group, a number of positions were immediately eliminated because of overlaps -- a CFO and operations manager. Then, just this month, the marketing position at ACG was eliminated.
"Unfortunately, we just lost a real talent, Rob Mitchell, because it took the company a while to determine that his position did not exist within the overall marketing structure," Tobecksen told us.
There are no other shake-ups planned as Nike ACG moves into the new fiscal year and Tobecksen told us that he is very pleased with where the brand is heading.
"There has certainly been some challenges as we moved from being an independent business unit into one that is part of a bigger machine, but there are huge advantages that we are now able realize too," said Tobecksen. "Our product teams have more access to resources and will be able to become more innovative as a result."
Tobecksen is pleased with the direction at specialty as well. "When I look at the specialty business, we had a target of the top 100 retailers we wanted to work with, and we have since doubled that number."
SNEWS View: Integrating the ACG footwear and apparel product teams into the greater Nike machinery was not difficult. Integrating the business and administrative side of Nike ACG into the corporate machinery proved more complicated no doubt. Little wonder when you imagine that Nike ACG represents -- and this is a moving target -- a mere $250 million of Nike's $5 billion U.S. pie by most recent estimates. At that level each expenditure will be scrutinized and analyzed to be sure. No $90 million deals to sign rock climbers in that budget. However, under Kirk Richardson, and the watchful eye of Lee Turlington, Nike ACG has been making the right product moves by embracing the company's athletic heritage and keeping products in the line for at least two years. The Air Zoom Tallac turned heads at Outdoor Retailer recently and our initial tests are very positive. Tobecksen tells us to expect more of the same, and that's a good thing.